Inspiration for this write-up came from listening to the news about Coach stock plunging 16% today on the news that their earnings through the holiday season were sub par. Unfortunately, one thing analysts seem to lack is style. It seems odd to me that those who claim to be the aces of the retail industry don’t really know much more beyond the numbers, but those in tune with fashion know that one thing Coach has that its rivals of recent have not is a legacy of greatness.
Coach was founded in 1941, much earlier than Michael Kors (1981) and Tory Burch (2004). The company itself has survived a time when leather was rationed during World War II, a time when Gucci utilized canvas with interlocking G to manage their way through the great war. Coach’s logo was introduced in 1959, making it 54 years old, 6 times older than Tory Burch and nearly twice as old as Michael Kors, a brand named after a false name much like Ralph Lauren.
For a company to produce hand-sewn leather products for more than half a century, enduring economic upswings, new entrants to the market, and has even begun to shy away from their lackluster interlocking C canvas and steered back to their high-quality, solid colored leather products.
The price point of Coach items is much more appreciable to those spanning a far greater age range than the likes of similar quality competition that isn’t directly considered, such as Hermès, Louis Vuitton, J.W. Hulme Co., and Billykirk.
There must be a reason why one can venture to vintage stores, Goodwills, eCommerce sites alike and discover Coach leather bags from decades past that have endured wear and tear of daily use and still have life to give.
I encourage you to re-think the next time you make a leather purchase with the intention of buying ‘Italian’ or ‘French.’ Just last week I listened to a lady that immigrated to the United States tell me that American-made means high-quality, it means buying a product that you don’t have to worry about breaking, not living up to expectations, or even coming without warranty.
Click on the collage of Coach items to head over and check out some of the beautiful products they are still crafted 54 years later in the United States (shoes being the exception).
This new clothing company arrived on the scene recently, and it is focused on making products that have meanings more than just interesting printwork. Owner and founder Jordan Bell and I met a few weeks ago while downtown at a boutique, introducing one another and showing off products and designs to one another. He gave me two free shirts, which I have worn and washed and worn again. The fabric is very soft initially, but with a few washes it becomes one of the ultimate shirts for a day of r&r.
Jordan has since proved his products are 100% manufactured in the United States and he will continue that movement, which has been gaining strength across the country, as can be seen with many other companies.
Click on the photo for Equalnox to head over to the official blog for the company.
One of the best leather companies out of the Northeast, Corter Leather, a small-batch, high-quality product line coming from Eric Heins out of his apartment in New England, has been on my radar since reading the post about the quality of their utility belts many months back over at Simple Threads, run by Ryan Berger.
I began carrying Corter belts in three colors in my shop downtown, and have sold quite a few of them, with no returns.
Interestingly, I recently read that Eric is planning on outfitting a van and hitting the road this year to visit many new places, and just enjoy travel in general, all while continuing his production and crafting great products.
Eric, I wish you the best and I hope you enjoy another great year and increased success.
Click on his company’s logo to check out their current inventory.
One of the finest leather product producers in the South, perhaps in the U.S., Malcolm Smitley makes these beautiful products in Asheville, North Carolina. Fleet Co. has some of the best leather products for the best price point as well.
At Gate City Dry Goods Co., the micro-store I own in Design Archives in Downtown Greensboro, you can find his women’s clutches, flasks, and men’s wallets. I really have enjoyed seeing the quality of his product first-hand, and even more so the reviews I have heard from customers that have purchased his products.
Great Job Malcolm, keep it up!
Here’s the current inventory for the Holiday season:
Jack Rudy- Charleston, SC
Field Notes- Chicago, IL
Corter- Boston, MA
Hitsman USA- Tulsa, OK by way of NY
Baldwin Denim-Kansas City, KS
As well as the Henley Raw and Henley Skinny Black
Raleigh Denim- Raleigh, NC
Volunteer Traditions- Nashville, TN
Ruell & Ray Deadstock Denim- Blacksburg, VA
Portland General Store- Portland, ME
Centennial Trading Co.- Winston-Salem, NC
Henley Made in NC L/S Shirts Available
Gate City Dry Goods Co.- Greensboro, NC
Organic NC-grown & sewn cotton t-shirts in natural w/ GxC logo
Custom handmade leather bracelets
Custom Flannel Ball Caps